The Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation, and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters emerged in 1997 and 2001 as an international UN related treaty which correlated democratic principles and environmental responsibility. In terms of solidarity economics and government policy, the recognition of each and every member of the public in economic democracy forms extends the co-operative, value-based model of business first historically established by working people in Rochdale, England near Manchester. While the U.S. has fostered some important advances in democratic practices, among its most important has been the UN´s Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which established a new modern standard declared in favor of the participatory principle. The Aarhus Convention builds significantly on this idea by applying it to environmental concerns.
An examination of the Aarhus Convention reveals that the treaty originated in the U.N. Economic Commission for Europe’s (UNECE) “Environment for Europe” (E for E) processes begun in 1991, following the Brundtland Commission’s report on Sustainable Development and in anticipation of the 1992 U.N. Rio Conference on Environment and Development. Stockholm’s Principle 1 against discrimination and Rio Declaration Principle 10 on pluralistic public participation became a definitive foundation for the E for E concerns and programs. In between these two events and declarations, environmental accidents in Europe first spurred the development of the environmental public participation principle, while the subsequent fall of Eastern Europe and Central Asia’s Communist systems created a broader response to the acute and wide-scale crisis in environmental pollution and transitional political economies for the UNECE and the E for E process. A series of steps took place as conferences and interim meetings developed concerns, concepts, and consensus, like a
The significance of public participation in environmental matters is clarified by a number of historical developments in international environmental law, including European environmental law like the 1990 Directive on Access to Information in Environmental Matters2 and